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Home > Books > Mason > North American Bows, Arrows and Quivers > Notes on the Bows, Arrows, and Quivers of Various Tribes - Part 1
Notes on the Bows, Arrows, and Quivers of Various Tribes
Part 1 of 7

Baegert says that the shafts of the Southern California arrows consist of reeds, which they straighten by the fire. They are above 6 spans long, and have, at the lower end, a notch to catch the string, and 3 or 4 feathers about a finger long, not much projecting, and let into slits made for that purpose. At the upper end of the shaft a pointed piece of heavy wood, a span and a half long, is inserted, bearing usually at its extremity a flint of a triangular shape, almost resembling a serpent's tongue and indented like the edge of a saw. The Californians carry their bows and arrows always with them, and as they commence at an early age to use these weapons many of them become skillful archers.[44] (Plate XCI, XCII.)

The arms of the Apaches according to Pike are the bow and arrow. Their bow forms two demicircles, with a shoulder in the middle; the back of it is entirely covered with sinews, which are laid on in so nice a manner by the use of some glutinous substance as to be almost imperceptible; this gives great elasticity to the weapon. Their arrow is more than the "cloth yard" of the English, being 3 1/2 feet long, the upper part consisting of some light rush or cane, into which is inserted a shaft of about 1 foot made of some hard, seasoned light wood; the point is of iron, bone, or stone, and when the arrow enters the body, in attempting to extract it the shaft [foreshaft] comes out of its socket and the point remains in the wound. With this weapon they shoot with such force as to go through the body of a man at a distance of 100 yards.[45]

"The Apache arrow was composed of three distinct parts-the reed, the stem, and the barb; the last affixed to the stem, and the stem, of hard wood, inserted in the reed, and both held firmly in place by ligatures of sinew. The stem was made of a hard wood called kk-ing, and the reed in Apache 'klo-ka,' meaning 'arrow grass.' There is a great advantage in the use of this reed, because the arrow afterwards needs no straightening,' whereas the arrows made by the Zuņis and others must be subjected to a special process to make them shoot true.

"The use of sinew for securing the barb to the stem was believed to be based upon the fact that after the arrow had entered the body the warm blood, flowing from the wound, would soften and loosen the sinew, disengage the barb, and increase the discomfort, pain, and danger to the victim.

"It may be of interest to students of linguistics to know that the Apache word for bullet, 'ka,' is really the word for arrow, and much as . the word has survived the weapon itself has survived, because the cross section of a rifle bullet, taken along the greater axis, is all the same as the same section made on a double-tanged arrow."

"In the American Naturalist, vol. XL, p. 264, Mr. Edwin A. Barber describes nine different kinds of arrow-heads-leaf-shaped, triangular, indented at base, stemmed, barbed, beveled, diamond-shaped, awl-shaped, shaped like a serpent's head.

"All the above forms maybe found in use among the Apaches to-day. The same warrior may have in his quiver representatives of several types, sometimes serrated, sometimes non-serrated, but all deadly. Arrows intended simply for the killing of birds or small game were not always barbed, but were generally provided with a cross piece about 2 inches below the tip. [This same stop is found in Canada.]

"The arrow of the Apache sometimes terminates in a triangular piece of hard wood, which seems to be perfectly effective as a weapon. One set of these is now in my possession, made of Florida orange wood by Koth li, a Chiricahua prisoner confined at Fort Marion.

"Just such arrows were observed by Columbus upon first reaching this continent. 'They carry however in lieu of arms, canes dried in the suu, on the ends of which they fix heads of wood, dried and sharpened to a point.' (Letters of Columbus, Hakluyt Soc., London, 1847, vol. II, p. 6.)[46]

"Stone arrow-heads were made preferably of obsidian (dolguini), next of chalcedony, petrified wood, jasper, or other siliceous rock, lastly of fragments of beer bottles; but if pieces of hoop iron could be picked up they were always utilized.

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